Author Archives: mpdenton

Stanley Cup Finals…

…so here we are…finally.  Almost anyway.

It’s been a long wait for Boston Bruin fans.  Not in terms of years, since it has only been 6 years since they last appeared in the Finals.  As opposed to the 49 year gap the St. Louis Blues and their fans have endured.

We, of course, are talking in terms of days.  11, to be exact, since the Bruins’ last game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

That’s a long time to be idle.  Sure, it may have helped some guys who were banged up a little bit.  Well, as long as that scrimmage the Bruins had last Thursday didn’t produce any more injuries.  Rumor has it Brad Marchand got dinged up in that one.  But it didn’t appear to be serious…hopefully anyway.

In any event, I find it hard to believe it will help someone like goaltender Tuukka Rask.  As we all know, Rask has been playing unconscious.  Out of his F’ng MIND, actually.  Like…something we have never seen before.  Despite the fact he makes 7 mil a year and should be doing this all the time.  But I digress…

I would think it would be hard for a goalie to stay sharp with that much time off.  Tuuks usually plays better when he gets some rest during the long regular season.  But not after a week and a half off.  Well, I can’t imagine he does anyway.

AND THAT IS WHAT SCARES THE F’NG BEJESUS OUT OF ME!!!

My opinion?  Glad you asked!!!!

The St. Louis Blues are a nice story.  Like last place early January.  Fired their coach.  Brought up a new goalie, never before having played in the NHL.  Nice run along the way.  Blah, blah, blah.

And although the Boston Bruins avoided some heavyweights in the Eastern Conference, especially the Tampa Bay Lightning and their best record in the NHL and kind of…ever…, and the defending champion Washington Capitals, they were a pretty good team start to finish.

And, with my usual disclaimer of having not watched copious amounts of Blues hockey throughout the year, the Bruins do seem to be the better team.

Why?  I don’t know.  Just seems like the Blues are another “Carolina Hurricane” type story.  Underdog going on a nice run, then meeting their match in the Championship Round.

At least I hope it turns out that way anyway.

To me, it all comes down to the goalies.  We have already talked about Tuuks.  Can he keep up his level of play?  I really don’t have the answer to that.  If you told me there would be a 4 day gap instead of an 11 day one, I would have bought it.  I would have felt that in a short gap between series, he would easily have kept his mojo.  But now I am not so sure.

But I am also not so sure on the flip side.  Jordan Binnington played AWESOME in the regular season since the Blues called him up, right around the same time as the teams’ turnaround in early January.  But he hasn’t been quite as airtight in the playoffs.  I suppose that is possible, seeing as he has played several years in the minors, including part of the previous season for the Bruins’ farm team in Providence, on loan from the Blues organization.  But who knows which guy shows up in the Finals?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can say that about Tuuks too, I know.

So since I have no real riveting analysis to actually add here, I suppose I will cut to the chase…PREDICTION TIME!!

I guessed at the first series for the B’s.  I said Bruins in seven.  Right.  Of course, I was unsure, but let the record speak for itself, however bogus it may sound!  I never put predictions on paper for the next two series.  I would have gone B’s over Columbus in seven and over the Canes in 5.  But I have no proof, so call me a liar, whatever.

This one?  Bruins in six.  I know the recent record is something like the last 3-4 teams with the longer layoff have lost…and it’s like 13 of the last 16 or something like that.  Not good.  And the time off I think invariably hurts Tuukka at least a little…meaning a softie or two along the way…his SPECIALTY!!

But I just feel like the Bruins veterans will not let them ruin this golden opportunity to put one more notch on the belt for guys like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.  Even Rask.  And the whole Cinderella thing with the Blues.  And how will the rookie Binnington fare with the pressure?

Once again, just a feeling and a hunch.  With all due respect to a former college roommate, who gifted me a sweet Blues lid back in the day, that we wore the sh$t out of until the thing crumbled.  Thanks Maaaaaan-yeeeeeezzz!!

But your day is not today….

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Takin’ A Stab…

…so while the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins presumably wrap up their current playoff series’ this coming week, one way or the other, and me waiting to comment more on them until after they are complete, we thought we could stuff a New England Patriot roster projection right in the middle of all that to pass the time.

How’s that for a run-on sentence?!

Oh and the Red Sox?  They seem to be rounding back into form.  But then they will probably lose the upcoming series to the Orioles.  So let’s push them off for a bit as well.

In any event, projections don’t really mean much, especially at this time of year.  But we certainly do love to do them.  Even better once all the draft picks and other nobodies fill up the 90-man roster without anyone ever seeing (or really, hearing) what they are doing in practices over the spring/summer.  So let’s get right to it:

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham

In:  Brian Hoyer

Out:  Danny Etling

Way Out:  None

Comments:  Stidham would have to be really atrocious all spring and summer for him not to stick.  Hoyer’s 3 mil cap hit is stupid, but he will be around for insurance for one more year.  Could they cut him and leave him “on call”?  Perhaps.  But I don’t see it playing out that way.  Unless Stidham is the real deal.  Some people have been pointing out that the Pats did keep 4 quarterbacks one year of the Belichick regime.  But that 4th QB was Brady.  Etling is…and will not…be Brady.  Plus if they thought he could be they would have kept him on the roster last year.

RB (5):

Locks:  Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, Damien Harris, James Develin (FB)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson (FB)

Comments:  Nothing to see here.  4 dudes from last season and a third rounder from this year.  Good enough.

WR (5):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry

In:  Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Demaryius Thomas

Out:  Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Damoun Patterson

Way Out:  Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers

Suspended:  Josh Gordon

Comments:  Could be the position most in flux.  Edelman and the first rounder Harry are locks of course.  Then what?  The coaches seem to love Dorsett.  Thomas signed for fairly big coin and may start the year on the PUP list, so he likely sticks…unless he turns out to be Chad Ochocinco, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Joey Galloway or the like.  Meaning, he can’t get the offense or is officially done.  Maybe Berrios or Harris beats out Ellington.  Maybe none of the three make it.  There seems to always be some buzz around Berrios, but for now, I’m going with the veteran.  If, for some unknown…and unbelievable…reason Gordon is reinstated, then he gets a spot over everyone but the top two.  Not going to count on that, however.

TE (3):

Locks:  None

In:  Matt LaCosse, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo

Out:  Stephen Anderson

Way Out:  Andrew Beck

Comments:  Complete turnover.  Worse yet, no Gronk.  In any event, your guess is as good as mine.  LaCosse got signed to a decent deal.  But the club seems to like Izzo and Anderson.  Sefarian-Jenkins may be the guy with the most talent, but who really knows with him?  Rumors of Ben Watson are in the air.  And perhaps Gronk at midseason?  Doubt it.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if none of these guys were here for Opening Night, to be brutally honest.

OL (8):

Locks:  Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT),

In:  Yodny Cajuste (T), Hjalte Froholdt (G), Ted Karras (G/C),

Out:  James Ferentz (C), Brian Schwenke (C), Cole Croston (T)

Way Out:  Calvin Anderson (T), Jake Eldrenkamp (C), Tyler Gauthier (C), Cedrick Lang (T), Dan Skipper (T), Tyree St. Louis (T)

Comments:  On the other hand, this group seems to be fairly set in stone.  If Wynn is healthy, they probably go with him to replace Trent Brown at left tackle.  The other starters are mainstays.  The two fourth rounders would seem to be in, along with Karras who is the backup center.  Maybe an undrafted free agent sneaks in there somewhere since one or five always seem to make the team.  But for now, this seems right.

Defense:

DE (6):

Locks:  Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Keionta Davis, Derek Rivers

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Thurman

Comments:  Bennett goes without saying, but the rest of the group looks to shake out like this.  Wise shows flashes from time to time, Simon re-upped for decent cake and Chase is a third rounder so they all are no brainers.  Think they give Davis and Rivers one more year.  But their spots are anything but safe.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Mike Pennel

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry

Way Out:  Trent Harris, Frank Herron

Comments:  Wouldn’t shock me if a fifth body made it, but for now looks to be these guys.  Hey, Danny Shelton is apparently available!  Ugh…

LB (4):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Christian Sam

Way Out:  Shilique Calhoun, Terez Hall, Calvin Munson

Comments:  Looks like Hightower’s high cap number is irrelevant to the team.  Roberts still stinks, but they love him.  Sam is still on the outside looking in.  May be a place where any of the last three players could sneak in with a big camp.  But maybe I just wanted to say the word “Shilique” again?

CB (7):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  Keion Crossen

Out:  Ken Webster

Way Out:  D’Angelo Ross

Comments:  Loaded.  McCourty signed a pretty pricy 2 year deal, so he’s firmly in, as opposed to last year where he was firmly on the bubble.  Hard to believe they would cut bait with Dawson after lugging him around all last year.  Williams’ second round status this year locks him in.  Crossen could be in trouble, but he supposedly showed well last year, we don’t believe they would just toss him by the wayside at this point.  Jones played plenty of safety in the Super Bowl, so maybe that’s part of next seasons’ plan?

S (3):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon

In:  None

Out:  Obi Melifonwu

Way Out:  Malik Gant, A.J. Howard

Comments:  Harmon makes too much money (as does Devin, for that matter), but I don’t see them jettisoning him.  Some of the corners and special teamers can back up here, in my opinion.

Specialists (8):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Terrance Brooks (ST)

In:  None

Out:  Ryan Allen (P)

Way Out:  None

Comments:  A hunch on the punter.  Allen has been serviceable since he has been here.  And he had a helluva Super Bowl!  But they tried to replace him last year pretty much, by getting a dude with a big leg, trying to “hide” said dude by not punting him the entire preseason, yet he still was claimed by Buffalo at final cuts when they tried to get him through waivers to the practice squad.  Now they DRAFT one in the fifth round?  And Allen only signed for one year because “that’s what he (Allen) wanted”?  Seems like the writing is on the wall here.  The rest of the specialists…it’s almost like they have tenure here.  Yeah, Bolden left for a year, but you know Bill loves him.  And Brooks is new, but he was a kind of a “priority signing” if you will.

Final comments:  Yup, that’s 56 guys for a 53 man roster!!  I can add, I swear!  I thought it was pretty good narrowing things down as I went along position by position in order though.  I didn’t go back and adjust, because…I don’t have any real answers.  There will be injuries.  And trades.  That will pare things down.

But for the sake of accuracy, the three I would remove from above to have an actual 53-man projection would be both Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers at defensive end, to be honest.  They can move some linebackers around to cover the edge.  And it’s not like those guys have stood out in any way.  For the last cut, I considered Crossen, Hoyer (as discussed above), Ellington or one of the TEs.  But I’m taking the easy way out and putting Demaryius Thomas officially on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

I can do what I want I guess…but a lot can happen from now until September of course.  So again, this doesn’t really mean all that much in the end…

More Leftovers…

More random jibber-jabber, in no particular order:

*CELTICS?!!  Who saw that smokeshow over the Bucks in Game 1?  How about…NO ONE?

I think we should all take the first round pounding of the Indiana Pacers with a huge grain of salt.  The Pacers really weren’t any kind of playoff team.

But that game against the Bucks Sunday?  Where the heck did that come from?

The Celtic players have told us all year to “not worry about us, we will be fine come playoff time”, blah, blah, blah.  But did any of us actually believe that nonsense?

Nope.

But let’s pull back the reins a bit.  It was a nice game.  But there is plenty of series left.

The Celtics shot 54% and the Bucks 35%.  The “Greek Freak” shot 7 for 21 himself.  The C’s are perfectly capable of firing up their share of bricks.  And the Bucks at home are bound to be better.  This alone should give everyone pause.

So even though Paul Pierce actually said: “this series is over”.  Let’s not let the rest of us get carried away…yet anyway.

*The Boston Bruins actually got by the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first-round series.  We weren’t that confident about that when we last wrote about the team.

Now they are facing a battle with a hot Columbus Blue Jacket team.  You know, the one that dumped the President’s Trophy winners the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round?

The series is currently tied 1-1, as of course, we all know.  But that double OT loss was a bad one for the Bruins.  Are they tired?  Maybe.  Are they banged up?  Maybe.

But some really stupid decisions in that game.  Patrice Bergeron’s essentially game-ending penalty.  Charlie Coyle’s dumb pass.  Jake DeBrusk going in alone on the goalie and dropping a pass back to a covered Bruin.  The list goes on.

The power play has disappeared.  So really has David Pastrnak.  Pasta, Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug, among others, need to play like they are capable of (Krug at least offensively).  I’m not sure what to do about Zdeno Chara.  At times it has been ugly with him.  But you can’t exactly bench him…not that I’m suggesting that is the solution.  Completely anyway.

So if the mental mistakes of Game Two continue, it will be a short series.

But the more important thing is having some of the teams’ best players actually start showing up.

*Patriots draft.  Good or bad?

Who the hell knows?!

Can’t ever tell with these things until a few years down the road…at least.

But a snap judgment?

Who the hell knows?!

In all seriousness, it appears that the Pats did ok.  Based on what the “experts” say.  Ok, let’s not really pay attention to the experts.  Cuz they don’t know everything either.

As for the players, I didn’t exactly love them taking a wide receiver in the first round.  But I wasn’t opposed to it either.  I know nothing about this N’Keal Harry kid.  And anyone around here that says they do is lying.  But WR is a huge need for the Patriots.  So if this was one of the best at the position, I’m sure as hell ok with them adding him to the group.

I’m not sure why they needed another cornerback to add to the roster…at least one taken at #45 in the draft.  The CB room is stacked already.  But then I thought about it a little.  And if this Joejuan Williams kid can actually play, then it can’t ever hurt to have another solid guy in that group.  Besides, some of the other cornerbacks in the room may be a fit at safety as well.  As we saw with Jonathan Jones in the Super Bowl.  And that safety group is getting up there in age.  So it appears they did ok here.

I am not going to go through the rest of the picks individually.  You know, since I am not Mel Kiper or Todd McShay.  But we HAVE to talk about the quarterback.  4th rounder?  I guess.  On one hand, this kid Jarrett Stidham was supposed to be a first rounder if he came out last year.  So “they” say anyway.  Then he sucked badly enough last season to drop to the fourth round this year.

What does that tell us?  I have no idea.

Stidham has to be a better prospect than last years’ seventh-rounder, Danny Etling.  He probably isn’t even much worse than the current backup, Brian Hoyer.

Either way, adding another guy to the QB room and basically taking another shot at a kid that COULD be the replacement for Tom Brady down the road is not a bad thing.  And if Stidham really had first-round talent at one point and you get him in the 4th round this year…well, it’s worth it.

The rest?  I never mind the Pats loading up on the line, on either end of the ball.  They took 4 mid-round swings there.  A punter in the fifth?  Meh.  But that’s about where Bill Belichick likes to take his special teamers.  There’s nothing we can ever do about that.

A running back in the third?  Actually, not opposed to it.  They kept 4 last year and then Jeremy Hill got hurt.  If this Damien Harris kid can play, he can get right in the mix there immediately.  I’ve said it a million times, the team will continue to run the ball more.  The more capable bodies they have there, the better.  Especially when Rex Burkhead (and Sony Michel?) can’t stay healthy.  And we really do not want James White running the ball a whole lot.

Lastly, the Patriots are taking some heat for not drafting a tight end.  Let’s face it, they are not going to find another Rob Gronkowski.  Period.

As we have said before, not sure Jared Cook would have been the answer either.  So let’s roll with what they have:  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo, Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson, Jacob Hollis…oops, Hollister just got traded to the Seahawks for a bag of footballs.  Maybe they add some more kids and a vet or two like Benjamin Watson.  What’s the difference?  As long as they can block, if the team runs more, they won’t throw a ton to the TE anyway.

And again, for emphasis, they weren’t finding the next Gronk in this draft.  I don’t care what they say about T.J. Hockenson.  There’s been plenty of those types of guys drafted high in past years.  Guess what?  They weren’t Gronk either.  So not taking a tight end doesn’t bother me in the least bit.

One last nugget:  Gotta love the SEVEN trades pulled off by Bill.  Overkill?  Perhaps.  But, “it is what it is”.

*The Red Sox still stink.  That will likely change at some point.  But this start is a joke.

We covered that a great deal last time, so we won’t delve deep this time.  But we have a few things here:

*Does everyone know that Marcus Walden leads the Sox in wins with 3.  Really?  LIke the 15th guy on the staff has the most wins on the team 20% of the way through the season?  Wow.

*Something that may only interest me:  Brandon Workman has pitched 12 2/3 innings and has only given up 2 hits.  Awesome, right?  I’d hold off on that actually.  I think we have to factor in the 12 walks he has allowed too.  12 walks in 12 2/3 innings?  Seems hard to do.

*Michael Chavis is up from the minors and actually hitting the ball a bit.  And walking some too.  Small sample size, but worth noting.  You know, since a lot of the rest of the team isn’t.

As long as Chavis is hitting, he should be in the lineup.  Even when all those injured second basemen come back.

I’m sure he won’t be in the lineup though.  But he may also not be hitting when the injured come back.  So it may not matter.  But you can’t tell me he can’t offer more than those injured 2B, Dustin Pedroia, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt.  Certainly offensively anyway.

The team will most assuredly send their top hitting prospect back down to Pawtucket for more “seasoning”.  And maybe he needs it.  Or will need it.

But don’t do it if he is producing.  Unless he gets nailed on the juice again…

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